"A Chance to Live."

Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing, any of it's characters, or any of it's storyline. I own a friend who reminds me a lot of Duo...but that's about it.

A/N: Yay..a new chapter..a had two tries at this one...then I took out what I liked and melted it into one chapter. My writing kinda goes in ups or downs...sometimes when I'll delete whole parts at a time...heheh..only sometimes though. I like this chapter..I hope you do too!

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"Relena...."

His heart was suddenly beating out of control, his fingers flexing and unflexing at his sides. Her eyes were wide, her mouth slightly open, and Heero suddenly had the feeling that the world was one step ahead of him. The same feeling he had experienced that day on the beach and he had to resist the urge to fling his arm across his face again.

"Heero!" She gasped, "What...."

Despite two wars and a year of enduring the impossibilities of politics, Relena really hadn't changed at all. Her clothes were still completely modest, nothing less than a white skirt that crossed down to her knees and a matching wool sweater that covered her from her neck to her waist.

Heero lowered his eyes to the ground. She was too innocent, too naive. He could feel her gaze, completely intense, on him. After everything she fought for, everything she was, she could still look at him?

'Virtue,' Trowa had said to him once. 'Is a power stronger than anything else.'

Heero hadn't believe him then... but maybe he was right.

He closed his eyes, taking a careful step towards her. Hilde and Duo made a quick retreat, the door closed, and they were alone. Relena stepped foward tentatively, one hand curled over her heart, the other clasped over her mouth. He crossed the rest of the distance towards her, reaching his hand up with slight hesitancy, and stroking one of her small braids. Relena closed her eyes.

"Heero..." She murmured. "It's been...where have you been?"

"It doesn't matter." He answered, retreiving his hand."What are_ you_ doing here?"

"Oh!" She said, shaking her head at herself as he retrieved his hand. She wasn't used to feeling this unrehearsed. Her heart was pounding, and her throat seemed to have closed up.

But then again...Heero always seemed to do that to her.

"Well...I don't really need to be here..." She said softly.

Heero's eyes flared, as if he completely understood her situation, and she laughed.

"Unlike the soldiers," She said pointedly, "I mean...I don't really need to get any help."

She seemed to realize her mistake as Heero stiffened. He turned his back on her, moving his way back to his bed and sitting on it. His actions indicated that he didn't care why she was there, and it certainly wasn't an invitation for her to join him. Relena continued anyway.

"I mean.." She cleared her throat. "Well...My mother, after my father's death, was placed into the Witness Protection Program. Normally I would be able so live with her, but because I've become...well...so known, it wouldn't be safe for me to be with her everyday." She shrugged slightly, noticing Heero's interest had returned to her. "I still get to visit her often enough, but it's too dangerous for me and her, apparently, for me to be see with her for more than a couple hours." Her words were sad, and slightly angry.

"You're the Vice Foreign Minister," Heero said darkly. "You'd have no trouble finding a place to live."

Relena sighed. "That's not the point. According to YSRO, I'm not of legal age to make my own way."

"Milliardo?" Heero snapped.

Her brow furrowed in confusion as to his anger.

"He has his own life now. Noin is with child. I don't need to burden my brother any more than I already have, especially when he has a family to take care of." She smiled slightly, the picture of her brother's constant worry for Lu still fresh in her mind. "Anyways, YSRO is only part of an association much bigger...the program is for all sorts of youth who were involved in war..including...well.. 'political servants'"

She shrugged and smile. "Well, it's not so bad here. Have you met Wendy?"

Heero nodded.

"She's wonderful." She smiled now at Heero, who shifted uncomfortably

"Well," She said, suddenly feeling the ackwardness of the situation. "I'm sure Duo will insure you learn well enough...what goes on here..but..well..would you like a tour?" She grinned. "Unless, of course, you'd leave it all up to Duo."

"Hey," Duo's voice floated from the door. "I take offense to that, princess!"

Heero tilted his head back, watching as the former gundam pilot marched in with as little grace as possible, flopping down on the bed and crossing his arms over his chest in a pose similar to Heero's. Duo's indigo eyes glared up at the Former Queen of the World, tilting his nose to the side and looking peevishly annoyed.

Relena giggled. "Sorry, Duo."

"No, No," Duo sniffed dramatically. "You are allowed an opinion!"

Relena gave him a look, glancing back at Heero and twisting her hands behind her back. Heero watched her silently, contemplating the thought of getting any sort of explanation from Duo, and sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed.

Relena's eyes lit up happily, and she turned to the door, opening it and stepping through. He followed her into the hallway, keeping his eyes resolutely on the ground.

"Oh!" Duo yelled after them, purposely adding a shrill tone to his voice. "That's how it is, is it? Well, that's just fine! I'll sit here, staring at the ceiling, twiddling my thumbs...maybe trying to figure out the meaning of life..."

Hilde met them at her own door, rolling her eyes at the ceiling. Relena giggled again, gesturing with a graceful flick of her hand towards the open door they had just existed, that of which Duo's voice was ranting.

"He's all yours." Relena said, stiffling her laughter with her mouth. "Go get em'."

Hilde nodded, her mission set, and she trudged bravely towards the door, kicking it open as she marched inside. Heero looked at Relena bewilderedly, and only got muffled laughter in return.

"No! No, not life. The meaning of death, that's what I'll think about... Hilde! Did you hear what they were saying? Could it possibly be any..oof!"

There was nothing but silence after that, the slow beat of someone's music a few doors down blending in. Relena released a sigh, shaking her head. Heero turned his back, looking straight foward as they began to walk towards the stairs again.

"Hilde's the only one who can really control Duo." Relena said with a smile.

Heero made a small sound in his throat, running the idea ironically in his head. Relena seemed to see that he didn't want to talk, and she lowered her head, biting the inside of her lip. Heero felt a small pang of guilt in his chest, and inwardly sighed.

"Are they..."

"Going out?" Relena supplied the words he had been searching for. "No, not really."

"What's that supposed to mean...not really?" He asked. "Either they are...or they aren't."

Relena shrugged her shoulders. "Technically, I think they are. But they'd deny it, if you asked about it, believe me, I've tried."

Heero nodded his head in acknowledgement. "Duo's like that."

Relena made a small sound of agreement as they descended the first flight of stairs.

"So is Hilde. They're exactly alike. It goes against everything the 'opposites attract' rule states...but they kinda balance eachother out, if that makes sense. Duo knows her better than anyone...Hilde knows how to control him better than anyone.." She laughed. "They pretend that they hate eachother sometimes, but everyone can see how much they care about eachother. Hilde talks about him all the time."

"You're rooming with her?" He asked the obvious.

She nodded. "Yeah..she's pretty cool." she looked at him. "It'll probably be..amusing rooming with Duo."

Heero sighed. "Yeah, well. The room's nice."

He looked over at her in surprise as she let out a short laugh, gripping the railing as they decended the stairs, her shoulders shaking with mirth. He hadn't thought it was all that funny.

"I'm sorry," She said when she finally calmed down. "But Duo..you're gunna kill him."

He smirked. "Maybe..."

Her chuckles quieted as they reached the bottom level, smiling tranquilly–like her old self– as she passed others. This gave Heero the time to look around himself.

The group home, he realised, was not as small as he had originally thought. Besides the fact that it had four floors, the bottom level also stretched out quite far, enough to fit atleast two regular sized houses.

The walls were made of some sort of wood, giving the house a slight scent of spruce. The carpet beneath his feet was a light blue, stretching across all the way to the large kitchen. The walls were decorated with various picture frames and paintings, shelves positioned along them containing many different things. It looked like the perfect school home.

He jumped slightly when Relena took his hand, leading him through the large main room and towards what he assumed was the kitchen. His eyes widened slightly as he looked around, taking in the sight of the kitchen that could feed hundreds. Whatever impression he'd had about this being a small farmhouse, was gone.

Large, metal tub-sinks lined the left side of the large rectangular room. Checkered tiles and concrete made up most of the floor, and Heero followed the pattern with his eyes until he was almost dizzy. Large wooden counters lined the centre of the room like an island, occupied by large soup pots and various cutting boards. Off to the right, a misplaced wall opened up to a whole new, if not smaller, room, where Heero could see a large dishwashing machine, built to clean many loads at one time, and many dish-racks that were as wide as they were tall.

"This is the kitchen." Relena said to him. "But take a good look, you won't see it again!"

"What?"

"We're not really allowed in here, not unless we're working." She smiled.

He watched as she waved to numerous people, some older, with white chef hats, and to the younger ones, who seemed to be mostly working the dishes.

"Everyone?" She called. "This is Heero."

They greeted him with kindness, something he wasn't used to, and when Relena elbowed him in the ribs, he lifted a hand awkwardly in greeting. The older men and women who seemed to be operating the kitchen gave him a variety of different smiles, and went back to work. The younger ones, who were drying and stacking dishes, either gave him coy looks or hostile glares.

"Heero," She said to him, gesturing to each one of the cooks in turn. "David, Kiara, Joseph, Ken and Paula. The one over in the corner is Francois."

He committed their names to memory, wondering if he would ever need them. Then, Relena turned towards the back, where many of them were still watching him curiously.

"The two boys who are washing back there. The one on the left is Yukio." (A/N: I can't help but think it sounds like Yu-gi-oh!....carry on)

Yukio lifted his head, sneering at Relena, and glaring at Heero. His hair was black, streaked with a defiant red streak. Relena made a disgusted sound, and motioned to the next one.

"The guy beside him is Joey."

Joey looked slightly younger, and he lifted brown eyes and blond hair to give them a little wave, smiling joyously, and returning to his work. Relena then moved to the two girls who were drying various dishes.

"The girl on the right is Hiroko. The girl on the left is Katie."

Hiroko had curly brown hair that fell in ringlets to her shoulder. She looked no older than ten, and she smiled unrestrainly at Heero, raving her towel in the air.

Katie was slightly older than Tasha, her blond hair pulled up high in an atheltic ponytail, and she tilted her head at Heero, as if assesing him. With a small shrug of her shoulders, she went back to work.

"And the two at the back," she concluded, "That's Kaori and Seiko."

The two looked up from stacking, dark brown hair and piercing grey eyes convincing Heero that they were twins. They grinned at him, and they too, returned to their work.

Relena nodded, turning and moving back through the door and into the lobby again. From there, he followed her through to the other side of the large room, and through a left corridor, until he found himself in a long, thin, hall.

"This is the dining hall." Relena spoke softly. "It's...erm...where we eat."

Heero was astonished. Long, thin, wooden tables took up most of the room, four of them, side by side. Thin benches ran along side them, and with a quick calculation, Heero realised that the room could probably feed thousands. He...hadn't known there had been so many.

"How many people live here?" He whispered.

"I...havn't really asked.." She replied cautiously. "But I'd say...several hundred."

"Several hundred?" He hissed, whirling to her. "Children?"

She nodded sadly. "And that's only Japan. Not counting those who have found homes."

He seethed, his fist clenching. "That's disgusting."

"I know..." She whispered, touching his hand for comfort. "That's why...they're working so hard to stop it."

He shook his head, turning away from her.

"What else?" He asked.

She sighed, moving dejectedly along the hall once again. Heero followed, his steps mechanical, and he almost crashed into Relena's back when she suddenly stopped. She turned to him, her eyes wide and sad.

"What?" He snapped impatiently, and regretted it as she winced at his tone.

"W-well," She answered softly, "Maybe...It'd be best if you see the rest later.."

He fixed his gaze on her cooly, watching as she shifted nervously with her hands.

"Why?"

She looked up at him, a fear for her, a fear for him. It was something Heero couldn't understand. They stood in silence for a long time, eyes locked, as they had so many times before.

"I-it's so horrible, Heero." Relena whispered softly, her voice choked with tears.

He instantly lost his impatience, his whole attention focussed on her shaking shoulders. He wasn't good at this....wasn't good at anything when it came to her. Nothing...nothing could train him enough so he could know what to say to her, know what to do. But for the first time in his life, of the trinity of his mind,body and heart, his body was making the decisions. It wasn't reflex and it wasn't instinct, completely without his consent, his arms lifted up and rested on her shoulders.

"What's horrible?" He asked her, his voice raspy.

She sniffed, maybe from her tears, maybe from surprise. Or maybe both.

"What...war does..." She struggled with her words. "It's so much bigger...than you could ever imagine, Heero..."

"Relena..." He sighed. "What's...your point?"

To his great surprise, and relief, she chuckled softly. Stepping out of his hold, a gentle hand coming up to wipe her tears, she smiled weakly up at him. His heart skipped a beat.

"I'm just..." She turned away. "Perhaps...it would be better for you to see the rest with someone else...another Gundam Pilot."

Ah, Relena. The only person in the world who could confuse him.

"Why?" He asked again.

"Well, maybe Duo or Trowa would be able to...better understand your feelings about..the YSRO..." She sounded hesitant, confining.

"I still don't understand what you mean.."

She turned to him again, her eyes shining with unshed tears.

"Oh, Heero..." She shook her head. "There's so much more...than you..or me...or Duo, Trowa, Quatre or Wufei. So much more...."

Heero stared at her.

"I'm sorry," She whispered. "I have to go."

He watched as she brushed past him, watched as she dissapeared down the hall, listened as her feet pounded up the stairs. When he could no longer hear her at all, he turned to where she would have taken him if she hadn't hesitated, and he watched the door in front of him for a very long time.

But he didn't open it.

*~*~*~*~*

"Hee-Chan! HHHEEEE-Chan!"

It took him awhile to place where he was. The smell of cooked breakfast, the absense of the sound of cars replaced by the sound of birds, the sound of Duo shouting in his ear...of feet running past his door...and he remembered.

"Hee-chan! Get up! It's breakfast time!"

It marvled to him how easily Duo had adjusted to being put in a group home, how happily he seemed to lap everything up. Heero turned over to face him, watching him bounce around the room in his boxers, scrambling to get ready. Apperently, the God of Death, was gone....but he couldn't be sure..he needed to know...

"Would you stop yelling, Duo?" He growled.

Duo smiled. "Not a morning person I see." He sat down, pulling his socks on. "Look, I'm supposed to show you around, so we need an early start!" He jumped up, bouncing on his toes and looking at Heero expectantly. Heero sighed, pushing his covers off and sitting up.

Duo walked over to the edge of his bed, pulling a part of what Heero thought was the wall open, and displaying several shelves. The shelves were pilled with clothes, and to Heero's surprise, shoes.

"Take your pick." Duo chirped. "They're all yours."

His feet carrying him over without his consent, Harry edged toward the dresser, picking up the closest garment and examining it. They were all brand names, something foreign to Heero. He had never been given brand names as a child, and he could never afford brand names on his own. Muttering something about dictatorship, he dawned the first outfit he came up with. And feeling slightly foolish in a t-shirt and cargo pants, looked at Duo expectantly.

"Great," Duo said. "C'mon."

He lead Heero out into the hall, waving to people as they passed. In walked silenetly beside Heero until they reached a flight of stairs, and began to speak quietly.

"Meals are on the hour, early, mid-day, and late. The warning bell rings five minutes before each meal, and then again when it starts. Curfew is displayed by age. We're supposed to be 'in bed' by midnight, but we're free to stay up as long as we want in our dorms as long as we're quiet. There are bells and warning bells for those too. Chores are distributed individually or in groups, depending on the task, and you can find all the info shit on the bulletin board. With me?"

Heero nodded.

"Punishments aren't really a big deal..You either get a detention, or an ED: Extra Duty, which means you have to do an extra chore or something. You usually get punished for being late for a meal or school, or being out after curfew. If it's more serious, they take it to the YSRO board...and we don't really hear about it. School is Monday to Friday's, seven o' clock to one p.m. Divided in grades, obviously."

Duo didn't seem to have anything else to say, and this left Heero both annoyed and confused.

"Duo. What about...all the help we're supposedly needing?"He asked.

Duo turned to him. "Help..."

Heero snarled at him. "Help. Relena, and the agents from YSRO, said something about getting soldiers help."

Realisation dawned on Duo, and he laughed, rather nervously.

"Well...someone will come to you with information about that...I mean...everyone is different."

"What do you mean?" Heero watched as Duo turned away.

"I can't tell you about that Heero, okay?" Duo sounded oddly quiet. "Someone will talk to you about the type of help you'll get later."

Heero was about to say something. First Relena, then Duo. They were keeping something from him, something he was determined to find out. But they turned down the hall he had taken with Relena, and he didn't have the chance.

He took a deep breath as they entered the dining hall. (A/N: Think the Great Hall, in Harry Potter.) Even after his conversation with Relena... Heero was shocked to see so many people. He knew there were under aged soldiers...but this many? He quickly reminded himself that there were political people here too. But it pained him...to see children as young as seven. He sat down at the closest end of the table, where Duo pulled out a a stool for them. It wasn't long until Duo had engaged in a playful argument with Hilde, and Heero was left to himself.

And when the food appeared in front of him, he realized he was actually hungry, an experience he hadn't felt in awhile. While he ate, he looked around, dulling out Duo's and Hilde's heated voices in the backround.

The table around him was full of mostly people he assumed to be his age. He recognized a few faces, those he had met in the kitchen. He was seated beside the twins, who were arguing in a battle that could rival Duo's. They must have felt him watching them, because they turned, staring at him with grey eyes.

Seiko grinned at him, barring his slightly fanged teeth. "....Heero, right?"

"Yeah." He said dully, not wanting any sort of conversation, and turning back to his food. They must have realised this, and returned to their arguement. Heero was glad to be left alone.

But a few minutes later, just as everyone was finishing up, a gentle finger tapped his shoulder. Heero turned, and was looking at the twins once again.

Kaori smiled encouragingly, gesturing at his plate with a sweep of her hand.

"You gunna eat that?" She asked, gesturing to his hashbrowns. (A/N: YAY!!)

"No." He said shortly, pushing his plate towards her, and turning away again.

"I'm guessing you havn't been in a group home before." She said to him.

He turned to her again, beginning to feel annoyed.

"No, I havn't." He said harshly, hoping she would get the point.

"Didn't think so." She smiled. "You're so unfriendly."

He had no time to feel shocked at this, as Seiko had leaned over his own plate, picking up the few hashbrowns he had left, and popping them into his mouth. Kaori whirled at him, smacking him up the side of the head.

"Hey!" She yelled. "Those were mine!"

He swallowed. "Didn't see your name on them!"

A low growl issued from the tiny girl's throat, and Heero watched in shock as she lunged at her brother, knocking him on to the floor, the stool turning over. Kaori's hand reached up, taking a packet of sugar from the table and pouring it down her brother's shirt.

"Hey!" He yelled in protest, pushing her off, in turn taking his left over toast and throwing them at her. She shrieked with laughter, covering her head, and a boy down the table Heero hadn't seen before stood up.

"FOOD FIGHT!!"

The whole room exploded, various food flying in the air. Even Duo and Hilde stopped their fighting to participate, and Heero was so overwhelmed with flying food that he couldn't even think of a way to escape without some form of food in his hair.

A stern looking woman, with black hair pulled high in a bun, dark green eyes outlined with stress wrinkles, and sporting small, square glasses, came up the isle with a menacing looking whistle hanging around her neck. She blew it, issuing a shrill, ear piercing sound, and the whole hall quieted. She glared down at the twins.

"Mr. and Ms. Whittaker." She hissed. "ED!"

This didn't seem to pose any particular threat, and the two stood, still clutching their stomachs with laughter. Heero watched as the hall began to clear out, and he turned when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Duo grinned, and pulled him by the arm, out of the large room and into the hall.

"Does that happen often?" Heero asked, wiping a piece of egg from his bangs.

"Almost everyday.." Duo replied, wiping a fleck of yogurt from his forehead. He turned to look at Heero's condemned face and grinned.

"Welcome to the YSRO."

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Yesh. I am gonna have fun writing this one...believe me...hehe...um...I hope non of the characters were too OOC. I tried to make sure Heero didn't open up or adjust too fast. And I will only be using my OC's to torture or manipulate Heero any way I can, but I promise Relena and Duo will be doing most of the manipulating.

I actually got this idea out of nowhere...it was one of those ideas that started as a thought and blossomed into a story plan...but the group home atmosphere was kinda inspired by 'White Oleander'

Yay. Please Review!